Asante History; Akyem Abuakwa And Dagomba Wars—Part 1

By Adomako M. Kufuor

The writer of this piece is not an Asante but a proud son of the occupant of the Denkyira Bankamdwa (the Supreme Stool of Denkyira State), Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III, the Denkyirahene.

Pre independence history of Ghana (1696-1901) was dominated by the history of Asante's hegemony and the attempts by the British to subdue it military prowess. It is in view of this the writer is basing this article on Asante. This is not to exalt any ethnic group above the other, neither is it to make some ethnic groups seemingly more important than others but to highlight on latent events between the reigns of King Osei Tutu I and King Prempeh I of Asante. It's important for us to note that we are the past; we are the sum of all the events- the good and the bad- that have happened to us. This sum product guides our actions in the present. Similarly, the only way we can understand people is by studying their past. If we don't understand what made them who they are we will make all sorts of mistakes in our interactions with them. Therefore is important to learn our history.

After King Osei Tutu (1700-1717), the founder of the Asante nation defeated Denkyira, he annexed surrounding Akan states including Wassa, Sefwi and Twifo but not Akyem into his new Kingdom. Akyem state, which was founded by a branch of the Denkyira royal family, however after the defeat of Denkyira, took certain actions which were clearly intended to provoke Osei Tutu into war. First they offered asylum to Ntim Gyakari's successor, Boadu Akefun, King of Denkyira who had rebelled against the Asantehene. The other action was they declared their support and schemed to restore the Twifohene who had been deposed by the Asantehene. The Akyems even promised to go to the aid of the people of Fante where the Twifohene had sought refuge in the event of their being attacked by Asante in 1712. However, Asante needed to control the rebelled states first before raging war against the Akyems. Hence Amankwatia (Bantamahene), the commander-in-chief of the Kumasi army was sent to humble Twifo and other rebelled states. Twifohene was killed and in 1714 Twifo and Denkyira had returned to their Asante allegiance. Amankwatia was urgently called to Kumasi in 1715 with the Wassa forces because the Akyems were greatly frustrating Osei Tutu with a battle. *source: System of Ashanti (Oxford, 1951) p. 74*

In 1717, Opemsuo Osei Tutu led an Asante regiment into Akyem. Initially he underestimated the Akyems and upon realizing the contingent of the Akyems army, the Asante rear army decided to withdraw him (Osei Tutu) back to Kumasi. Unfortunately, whiles he was crossing the Pra River with the Asante rear army he was shot and killed by the Akyems. The Mamponghene, Akuamoa Panin thereupon took over the command of the army untilled Opoku Ware Katakyie (1718-1750) was enthroned on the Golden Stool.

King Opoku Ware immediately instituted the Great Oath of Asante, Kromante, the greatest instrument which kept the Asante union from disintegrating after Osei Tutu's death. Whilst the Asante were still fighting the Akyems, Sefwi seized the opportunity of Osei Tutu's death, to attack Kumasi, killed Nyarko Kusi Amoa, Opoku Ware's mother who was then the Asantehemaa. Bantamahene, Amankwatia was sent to sefwi and he defeated them at the Tano River and executed their ruler Abirimuru. The Ankobea stool was then created by Opoku Ware to protected Kumasi and the king's treasury during war (Ankobea means doesn't go anywhere).

In 1723 Opoku Ware led-Asante Army defeated the Bono and Dagomba Kingdoms burning the latter capital Yendi. The British consul at Kumasi in 1827, M. J. Dupuis, records in his “Journal a Residence in Ashantee” that the Dagomba capital Yendi and other large towns of the country paid to Ashantee an annual tribute of 500 slaves, 200 cows, 400 sheep and cloths and that smaller towns are taxed in proportion. In 1732, Dr Claridge named Opoku Ware as the Conqueror of Dagomba in his “History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti”. Moreover Gbunja, a Muslim Chronicler recorded in February 1745 that “the Cursed Unbeliever, Opoku Ware entered the town of Yendi and Plundered it”. All these enlisted the defeat of Dagomba by King Opoku Ware which is been disputed by Dagbon state.

In 1730, when the Akyems decided to attack Akwamu, they sent messengers to Opoku Ware promising him 500 slaves if he would assure them that Asante would not invade Akyem in their absence. The Asantehene agreed to the Akyems request but allowed them only five months to finish the war. Akwamu was always considered by Asante as their allies. However, Akwamus were greatly responsible for Asante defeat during the Asante-Akyem war in 1717. The Akwamuhene suggested to Osei Tutu that a section of the Asante army should pass through Akwamu to attack the Akyems where they would least expect it. Akwamu then had the Akyems informed of the line the Asante must take which resulted in Asante's defeat. Therefore Asante had wished for humiliation of Akwamus but not complete break-up of Akwamu's power. It was for this reason that Opoku Ware threatened the Fantes in 1730 when he realized they had aided the Akyems in the killing of Akwamuhene Ansa Kwoa (1725-1730).

In 1732, King Opoku Ware invaded Gonja destroying their capital. A year later, the Danes noted that they were paying the monthly ground rent to Okyenhene Ba Kwante. They also reported in that same year that the Akwamus in their new homeland after their defeat by Akyems were boasting that Opoku Ware would soon give them Accra as a present after the Asante had defeated Akyem. Their boatful weren't far from right. In early mouth of 1742, Opoku Ware Katakyie invaded Akyem Abuakwa and Kotoku, their kings Ba Kwante and Apau respectively together with Otublohum Manste were all slain including the heir-apparent to the Abuakwa stool Akyem Owusu and Darko. Gold death mask of Ba Kwante was made and then added to the insignias on the Golden Stool of Asante. With the consent of Opoku Ware, Pobi Asomaning succeeded Ba Kwante as Okyenhene and Buroni became the new Kotokuhene. *source: The Rise and Fall of a West African Empire: Akwamu (1650-1750)*

Some messengers from the Asantehene reached Accra soon after the war to inform the European merchants and the coastal people from Accra to the Volta to pay ground rents and indemnities to Opoku Ware for allowing Okyenhene's brother Darko to join his people the Akyems to fight the Asantes. The Danish Governor Dorph Roemer made reference to the same event and wrote that “We Danes were troubled with about 20,000 Assiante men, when an Ursue Afrie (Owusu Afriyie) commanded and who plagued us until he got a considerable amount of goods from us”. The Governor gave account of this meeting with the Asante army on the 25th April 1742.

That is after the 32 years reign of Katakyie Opoku Ware, Asante conquered and annexed, Bono, Banda, Gyaaman, Gonja and Dagomba, all in the north; Aowin, Sefwi States and the Anyi state of Endenye in the west; Twifo in the south and Akyem, Kwahu, Akwapim and Accra in the south-east and Krakye and Krepi in the east. The only independent country was the Fante nation. To be exact, by the end of his reign, Asante was occupying an area much larger than modern Ghana. King Opoku Ware Katakyie eventually died in 1750. After Opoku Ware death, the Muslim chronicler Al-Hajj Muhammed Ibn Mustafa in the Kitab Ghunja criticized him for harming the people of Gonja by oppressing them, robbering their property, complaining he ruled violently as tyrant and noting that people all around feared him greatly.

To be continued...

Editor's Note:
By: A. M. Kufuor
Email: [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Adomako M. Kufuor .

Ohenenana | 4/8/2013 5:31:00 PM
I will give my comments after all the article are finish.I am very proud of my great grandfathers.
Ghanaboy | 4/8/2013 5:57:00 PM
Nice history thanks so much. So does it mean the name KUFUOR is from Denkyira??
Baba Abu | 1/10/2014 12:06:00 AM
Ashanti only got to Yendi because the rival prince wanted to take over the throne and sought help from Ashanti to realise his vision.
The Dagomba army did npt fight the Ashanti/rebels form Dagomba who attacked Yendi. NOTE: The chroniclers were only reporting what the Ashantis told them. And you need also to remember that Dagomba was already in existence for 300 plus years, when Ashanti was created, so the Ashantis wanted to claim glory of having conquered the old mighty Dagomba empire.
Salis | 2/6/2016 3:35:00 PM
adding...the dagombas were not defeated, they decided since no side was winning and to avoid further blood shed they would pay homage to the asantehene.
NanaDokua | 2/15/2014 5:21:00 PM
Nice reading this article...
Is it possible anyone here can get me information on the cultural practices (both modern and ancient) of the Akyem Abuakwa people?
Thank you...
W. MUSAK S. MUBARAK | 10/8/2014 4:07:00 AM
It is very important to know the legacy of our great grandfathers. but pls lets not try to over exaggerate. Ashanti's never face Dagombas in a battle. The writter shld pls go back n make a very good research abt Ashanti's n Dagombas.The writter shld also come out with the story of the war between Dagombas n the Ashanti's just like He explained the war between Ashanti's and Akyem. Also the writter shld note that, the Dagombas(people of BANTIMA in kumasi) who came n lead the Ashanti's to victory against the Akyem were not just sent by the Yaa Naa, The life of Ashanti's were not save, so Ashanti hene sent to Yaa Naa to come to His aid by giving Him warriors to help them fight the Akyem.( go back n ask a very truthful old experienced Ashanti man abt all what i said, He tell U that am right). But pls write a story to convinse everybody as to how Ashanti's fought n defeated the Dagombas. Look, Ashanti's never face Dagombas as a whole to fight one in one. Go search for the history of the war between Dagombas n the Germany president (Hitler). Also, the war of Dagombas against the British, this people didnt find anything easy, go n make a research. Hmm U people want a good name fare well its up to U. But If U want the full story of Ashanti's n Dagombas i can help U. U people ar very funny, Opoku Ware could not burn even bush in Dagban not to talk of the Yaa Naa's palace. At the time Opoku Ware was ruling the Ashanti's, Dagombas were divided into so many groups just like today Abudu N Andani. Why?, bcos After the death of Yaa Naa Binbiegu, there was a misunderstandg as to who to be the next King of Dagban. So, the contestance were called to Kumasi by the Whiteman for a meetg. On thier way back home Naa Gariba(the prince) was arrested by Opoku Ware n His people. N later was brought back to Dagban by telling Him to provide 100 slaves every year. It was a deal between Opoku Ware n Naa Gariba not Dagombas. Why was the palace burnt down n who burnt it down?. Noboby but the supporters of the other contestants to the YENI throne.Why?, bcos Naa Gariba was chosen by the Whiteman to go n rule Dagban. So, wen they heard that Naa Gariba was arrested on His way back to Dagban by Opoku Ware, majority amoung Dagombas were happy. But later He was brought to Dagban by His kidnappers( Opoku ware).the people were angry seeing Naa Gariba back home. So, They attacked the palace n burnt it down. No time but mr. Writter take stories fr genui n justice people.We Are all one today, no more war, our war is poverty. God help our home land Ghana.
Ababio | 12/18/2014 10:56:00 AM
Ashantis were never able to defeat the akans.....since in the olden days u ar powerless anytime u king is been killed....
D writter shld know why we have asante akem state
KOFI OKYER | 1/29/2015 1:18:00 AM
KOFI OKYER | 1/29/2015 1:20:00 AM
OLU | 3/12/2015 3:02:00 PM
This Ashantis are ungreatful people. After Dagombas help you to fight your enemies who defeated you in your previous wars, you now turn round to claim victory over your saviours. Has this writer ever sat down to ask himself where Ashantis got their current kingdom?. The overlordship as practiced in Dagbon, Gonja,Nanung and Mamprugu is allian to Akan tradition. Has the writer ever asked himself where Ashantis got the system from?. Has he ever asked himself a simple question like this?. What was the name of the imaginary battle between the Ashantis and the Dagombas? Battles are not code name fo nothing. it is for the historical reasons that any battle that was fought has an event that people take to remember those battles. Ashantis kindom was built and natured by Dagbon forces. Ashanti called for help when they were crashed by their enemies throught the recless way they went about attacking other tribes in search of war botties. Dagombas had extablished their kingdom for over 300 year at the time Ashantis were strugling to sta nd on their feet. A friendly call was made to a friendly kindom of Dagbon which before then had trade relation with MANPONG hene and his people. Dagombas went and helped their Ashanti friends to defeat the Bonus and other tribes that had previously defeated the Ashantis. Dagonba worriors were stationed in Bantima who was led by the Bantimahene. It was not the might of the bantimahene that made him the commander of the army but the freindly troops were under his village. Are you not suprise that the Ashantis extended their respect to the dagbong wariiors by given then the kotoko tittle?.
Nana Owusu Sekyere) | 4/18/2016 6:03:00 PM
f*ck off fam dont ever disrespectAsantis f**lish dog
Razak seini | 5/31/2015 9:48:00 AM
Never in history has asanteman fought Dagon or dagombas. Yes NAA garibaldi was kidnapped by asantes after he was betrayed by his half brothers who were interested in his title. He was on an expedition in and around bimbilla when he was ambushed and kidnapped by the asantes and so a ransom had to be paid for his released and there after till date Dagon has been an ally of asanteman.
The burning of yendi was done by the Germans after they defeated dagombas at adibo( Adibo war) eleven miles from yendi. Mr kofour's account is inaccurate
Hmmm so pathetic | 7/7/2015 9:07:00 AM
Why do you write such a lie? Ask yourself if Asantes conquered dagombas who then did the Asante hene choose to rule dagbon at that time? Bear in mind mole dagomba conquered all parts of northern region and even most part of Burkina Faso. Have you forgotten dagombas, nanumbas, mossi and mamprusi are one great tribe? Go back and learn history from original source not from white men and their books who didn't understand our language not to talk of writing what was said. You Asantes always want to claim superiority meanwhile you inter married with our tribes to grow stronger. Have you ever ask yourself why you Asantes inherit from your uncles?
wow | 2/6/2016 3:59:00 PM
i'm very surprised, the mossi in particular were great hose rider warriors. together with the mossi the dagombas ruled the entire volta basin. the mossi are very experienced in that they were the main force attacking the Songhai Empire even siezing timbuktu....but the ashantis defeated the dagombas that easily?
Husein | 9/1/2015 10:34:00 PM
hmm ashantis

so u really wish there is a history like ashantis defeating dagomba
Even up to date ashantis still pay much respect to dagombas cos those r their savior
Nana Owusu Sekyere | 4/18/2016 6:06:00 PM
Why u fink the world recognised Asantis as one of the greatest kingdom in the world not dagomba.jealous motherf*ckers
Kwame Appiah | 10/4/2015 9:46:00 PM
My friend stop typing plenty & go & read your history books well or better still go to ur chief & find out de truth. They lied to u & u hv bought into it. The fact remains dat Ashantis fought & defeated every ethnic group in ghana & even as far as defeating some in ivory coast. Why is Ashanti de biggest tribe in ghana & most powerful too...Our language (Twi) is de most widely spoken in Ghana & many other facts go to show dat Ashantis fought & defeated every other tribe in ghana. They were called kingdoms but Ashanti was called an empire. why do u think so? Because defeated and annexed all de other kingdoms to form de empire. Anyway I don't blame u for naively refuting these facts. Sometimes de truth is hard to accept.
deco 1 | 10/25/2015 1:51:00 AM
everyone writes in favour of his tribe.well I only blame dagombas cos de are de cause of all what is happening.y should u allow ur self to b called by others to settle ur chieftancy dispute. u see in that process ur chief to b was captured n u are happy after the release u go about burning ur houses. if only opoku capture gariba n dagombas are didn't attack then the was a defeat.Opoku used a trick n gain a good history for his generation.he used dagombas n gain what he want.we are all part if mole dagani.but is a fact
musah Abdul Fatawu | 11/11/2015 12:35:00 PM
Mr. Kufour and Kwame prempah go back and do ur home work well bcs Ashantis had never fought with de Overlords I mean Dagombas not to talk of defeating us. Remember it is never too late so u can tell ur king to organize war against dagombas to further test to see who is de strongest. Dagombas are not scared of anybody but we cry for mother Ghana dats why we are silent but remember we are still de Dagombas. I asked u Mr. Kufour and de entire shanties, which did u face dagombas and defeated them. U said ur Kingdom was formed in 1700 years later but Dat time was dagombas 15th kings. Dagombas started kingship over 300years later before u people. According to our elders it is Dagombas who taught u people how to practice kingship. De first king of Dagon was Naa Nagsi and Dat was 1421 so make calculation from Naa Nagsi to opoku ware Era ie 1700 meaning Dagbon Kingdom was in existence of 279 years of ohhh Ashantis wat a lie. No matter how it is Asantehene can never be de king of Ghana but he become de king of Ghana unless they wage war against all de ethnic groups in Ghana and if he wins we Crown him. U shanties forgotten soon then I asked where is Asantehene getting his magics from. Kabon yo ya so remember we dagbamba are ur Maziah so respect us.
MBATAMA | 12/15/2015 9:32:00 PM
Everyone is in title for his opinion! The writer must go back to history? For me this his opinion not a history that he is just try to claim! U can predict the flop! We know u guys ASANTE NKAI ! The is a porky man philosophy, changing history by twisting names! Like MuSA BiN BAIk) currently known as muzambek! Papafoo they change it to pepefoo, I want the writer to give me the definition of pepefoo and the world ntafoo? As is continuing for now we used to dress alike and when the asante see us they called as nntaaafoo not ntafoo! But now they change it to sound like non asuante".... MBATAMA RESPECT. ..
Kenyenechor | 12/18/2015 2:43:00 PM
asante never fought with krakye's.u asante always to be glorify.Even the juabenhene of the asante use to houner the king of krakye by sending his slave to come n play kete ochestra for Kaakyi Owura.pls go n learn more ok.we krachi even help the kumawu in their wars for that matter in those days if a Krakye man go there to work the dont tax him ,is bcus we have help them b4.
Kojo owuo...+233-576 | 12/24/2015 3:22:00 AM
Wow! Well said you all, behold, the old days are past let's now pay attention to how we will build our great nation Ghana!...hmmm but sometimes we should not claim superiority over other tribes, thinking yours is the best... To conclude, people of southern Ghana should never make the mistake of feeling that they are better than those of the north! NEVER!! Yes, northern Ghana may be seen as an area underdeveloped as compared to those of the south.. The south, especially the asantees should never see the northerners as inferior or feel powerful and superior over the northern territories. The fact and the truth will be blame on the so called colonial masters, which I call them "colonial cheats" the are the root cause of all this, then, they only used the northern area as a labour reserve. Even the first school in northern Ghana was built in 1909(stn to b corrected); the colonial cheats thought all the resources they need can be found in the south, hence, they with them.. Built.. Castles,schools,hospitals and other infrastructures, this then triggered the growth of the south.. Wt this, one may think the south is nicer and better than the north, which is not true! The fact that we have all keep even the names of our various tribes till dates concludes that indeed we are all great! ## so if you are an Asante and you see northerners involved in less paid jobs in your area or anywhere don't think you are great or superior over them.. But as I said .. We blame it on an era of history.. They called slavery! I Kojo owuo, actually curse that era forever!!!!!!!
Kojo owuo.0576144272 | 12/24/2015 3:27:00 AM
Stand to be corrected on my comment made...
Aaron | 2/14/2016 6:59:00 PM
eiii,Oga I think that u don't know history,go back and learn ur history well before u write anything.we the Akem are great worrios,we ve defeated the ashantis since day one,and Akyem is the only traditional state that did not loose his sovereignty to any traditional state in Ghana,if u like go and cross check,we ve contributed in the gaining of independence,check the big six majority of the big six are of Akyem Oga stop dey lie I beg.
Alhassan Lukwan Adam | 2/25/2016 10:32:00 AM
Hahaaaaaaya dis Ashantis paaaa,so u too claim superiority like dat.u wer from rocks and the almighty dagomas brought u out,now u want to claim superior over dem. NYAAGA,I SWEAR IF U DON STOP PUTING THIS sh*t ON NET,WAT WE CALLED CONFLICT WILL RISE B/W US.and if dat terrible tin happen der will be no hidding place for ur so called Ashanti hene,who pretended to be man but not,hw will u just let pollititians killed ur fellow chieff becouse of a national paramout.cos he knws dat if YAA NAA IS EXISTING HE CAN EVEN HEAR THE SMELL OF IT. NYAAGA.
Bonour | 4/14/2016 10:05:00 AM
am even laughing of hereing these ,every Ashanti knew of how Dagombas help them in conquering their enermies. the writter of theses story is not a real Ashanti , bcse real Ashantis dont dispute that fact does why every Dagomba has respect in Ashantihenes palace. No need to talk much

obaa adjoa | 4/20/2016 5:55:00 PM
plssss akyems wer neva defeated...dats y ashantis stil see us as enemies cos we wer powerful to de nonsenc point.jx go n visit ur history books again..although we neva formd a kingdom yet we remaind de onli pple ashantis neva conquerd
Mohammed ninya | 6/15/2016 12:16:00 AM
Read this rightup too late,but the little I have to add to the several diverse comments is that people especially of northern descent should not surprised at the revelation of dagomba succumbing to Ashanti advance,it is true my northern brothers even to the extent of having an Ashanti tax collector in yendi,over 400slaves ,thousands of sheep and cattle annually,even the gonjas pushed dagomba further eastwards to konkomba areas,mossis who are nephews to the dagomba helped them with slaves to be able to meet the Ashanti request or tax by attacking raising gurunsi villages south and southeast of the Mossi .the writer did not say they attacked Karachi but said rather south of krachi who are not guans but akans.
gariba | 7/8/2016 3:16:00 PM
plz tell me the meaning of "bantama" is it an ashanti word? u people are afraid of dagbombas u hv no history but only to copy we the dagbombas we don't copy but u people copy boy go back and learn hard ok to know the reality ur people hv decieve u ok
Husein | 7/20/2016 8:27:00 PM
am really surprzed at ninyas coment. which people ascend frst t de noth? Dagombas? if u say dagombas then u dont really know anytin. but y r dey now occypng de capitl city of de 3 northen rgions? Gonjas wer most powerful during de absence of dagombas.... let me no go there. but ninya I want u to tell me which of de dagbon king were paying de tx u tlkd of? u r such a useless tug on street so go n find the real history of dagombas n gonjas. ashantis never face dagomba but rather seekng thr help
Mohammed iddrisu | 8/4/2016 9:09:00 AM
All that you saying won't help us again let's stop it and fight together as Ghanaians this is not the olden days OK.proper development is what we seeking,why can't we think that the arguments can bring us that ignorant times.
Alhassan boss | 8/11/2016 1:55:00 AM
Asantes should take their time with Dagombas cos they can't even fight dagombas. pls you are not breather than every tribe in Ghana. don't be superior
Alhassan boss | 8/11/2016 1:55:00 AM
Asantes should take their time with Dagombas cos they can't even fight dagombas. pls you are not better than every tribe in Ghana. don't be superior
Bukari | 10/5/2016 2:47:00 AM
Is true that the ashantis defeated many tribes during the gold coast time their vision can be testify today now almost every body in ghana tody speak the twi language and they are most richest tribe in ghana lt us learn fr each other to make a better ghana. My wife is an ashanti bt I am not ,1gh
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